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Report: Scouts see Michael Sam “almost as a non-entity”

Sam AP

Draft week finally has arrived.  Which means that, eventually, the only remaining question regarding the process will be when does Michael Sam get picked?

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel suggests, based on a poll of unnamed scouts, that Sam may not be picked at all.

“The reason you don’t hear much about Sam anymore a few days before the draft is this is the time for real players,” McGinn writes.  “Based on discussions over the last month about Sam’s capability as a player with about two dozen NFL executives in personnel, he’s regarded almost as a non-entity.”

McGinn solicited opinions from 21 scouts.  Three pegged Sam for the fifth round, three put him in the sixth round, and three projected the seventh round.

Five of the scouts said they would sign Sam as a free agent, while seven of the scouts said they wouldn’t sign Sam, even as an undrafted free agent.

While the assessments provided centered on football issues (including his status as a “tweener,” caught between defensive end in a 4-3 system and linebacker in a 3-4), the elephant in the room remains whether scouts’ opinions are affected by Sam’s decision to come out in February as openly gay.  If no one drafts Sam, casual fans (and non-fans) of football will suspect homophobia, especially since Sam earned the title of 2013 defensive player of the year in the SEC, the closest thing the NFL currently has to a AAA minor league.

Of course, the 12 scouts who wouldn’t draft Sam won’t matter.  As long as two or more teams would use a draft pick on Sam, someone will draft him.

And an owner of one or more teams will presumably get involved in the process at some pojnt, in the hopes of being the closest thing football could have to a Branch Rickey, the Dodgers G.M. who signed Jackie Robinson at a time when Major League Baseball was exclusively white.

Thus, regardless of the naysayers, someone will say “aye” to Sam, and he’ll get a chance to compete for a roster spot.

Ultimately, the team that drafts Sam will have to have a plan for proceeding if he doesn’t truly deserve one of the 53 jobs available in early September.  Cut him, and questions will arise regarding whether he was rejected by teammates or coaches.

Thus, the team that drafts Sam may have to be prepared to keep him on the roster in order to avoid an unwanted spike in media attention as the first game of the season comes fully into focus.

Regardless, it will be a shock if Sam isn’t drafted.

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47 Responses to “Report: Scouts see Michael Sam “almost as a non-entity””
  1. barsfordays says: May 5, 2014 8:38 AM

    Either 7th round or PFA/UDFA

  2. goodellisruiningtheleague says: May 5, 2014 8:41 AM

    Sounds like he’s being discriminated against because of sexuality. He’s gotta be a 1st rd pick why else would Sports Illustrated have a whole issue dedicated to him?

  3. jjb0811 says: May 5, 2014 8:42 AM

    For a team in need of good publicity, he’s worth spending a late pick on.

  4. titansbro says: May 5, 2014 8:44 AM

    SEC Defensive Player of the Year. I get that he may be undersized & kinda slow. But if the kid can play then the kid can play. Worth a shot with a 4th rounder or later when you’re kinda throwing darts anyway.

  5. vexey says: May 5, 2014 8:45 AM

    I like the guy and support him, but the speculation about his draft status is going to be UNBEARABLE

  6. takethetopofdefence says: May 5, 2014 8:46 AM

    He knew exactly what he was doing when he came out, he did it to help his draft stock

  7. atlfan31833 says: May 5, 2014 8:48 AM

    “It’s” an elephant in the room because the media has harped on it ever since he came out. Let’s just let this play out and see where he gets picked. Someone will have him in camp whether he is drafted or not. THEN everyone will see whether he measures up to NFL talent and that is what will dictate whether or not he stays on a team.

    –Signed Captain Obvious

  8. mataug says: May 5, 2014 8:48 AM

    What I have gradually realized over the years is that reports of somebody rising/falling in the draft is basically the media catching up to teams’ perceptions of players after their own limited analysis. Also, I don’t think teams look at a player as a 1st rd, 2nd rd, etc. They are probably judged as can contribute immediately, will start next year after polishing, developmental project, etc.

  9. ftball101 says: May 5, 2014 8:53 AM

    It’s sad that a team would feel the need to keep him on the 53 even if they felt like he didn’t deserve it, just to prevent “unwanted attention,” even though they shouldn’t. It should stay a matter of winning or losing your job as a GM, not all of this political correctness stuff.

  10. floratiotime says: May 5, 2014 8:53 AM

    This is the new face of discrimination. If it wasn’t for his lifestyle no one would feel the need to disparage him. They’d just say he was a good player who figured to be selected in the middle rounds.

  11. jmblosser82 says: May 5, 2014 8:57 AM

    Totally shocked…wait, I seen this coming as soon as he came out. He’ll be on a team cone mini camp but will have to be explosive to make the 53 man roster.

    He’ll be forced to be the next Aldon Smith, without the criminal issues, to get a fair shake where if he were straight he provably would have no issue making a team at the very least as a back up.

  12. jacobslatter says: May 5, 2014 9:01 AM

    So he’ll be drafted on Saturday, just like Teddy Bridgewater (snickers).

  13. danandtardy says: May 5, 2014 9:01 AM

    If the reason that he isn’t drafted, is because he is gay, then you could probably blame the media.

    Most likely they wouldn’t draft/sign a gay player is because of the distraction. The distraction is caused by the media asking questions about anything but football.

  14. nflofficeadmin says: May 5, 2014 9:03 AM

    Don’t be mad, the CFL is hiring.

  15. cmoney4949 says: May 5, 2014 9:07 AM

    He is setting the NFL up for a lawsuit for discrimination. If he isn’t picked watch out. That was probably his handlers plans all along.

  16. markpugner says: May 5, 2014 9:09 AM

    SEC defensive players of the year get drafted, period. All this speculation is just media hype. Sam is to blame also because he knew what he was inviting when coming out. I’m sure there’s plenty of NFL players who are gay that don’t feel the need to broadcast it, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

  17. trumb1mj says: May 5, 2014 9:14 AM

    He’ll be drafted. The SEC defensive player of the year can usually play…

    2012 – Jarvis Jones
    2011 – Morris Claiborne
    2010 – Patrick Peterson
    2008 – Eric Berry
    2006 – Patrick Willis

    I hope the Lions give him a shot in 4-7…

  18. awdlmd says: May 5, 2014 9:14 AM

    Sounds like there is at least enough interest that he will at least be an an NFL training camp. At that point if he can play he will make the team, just like Vontaze Burfict did.

  19. campcouch says: May 5, 2014 9:14 AM

    Tim Tebow got drafted. He won the Heisman,dominated the SEC,couldn’t throw a lick in the NFL but he managed to linger around for a few years (should’ve swallowed his pride and changed positions,but…). Anywho,regardless of who or what he loves,he plays defense and unlike a stubborn QB,he’d probably be more receptive to changing positions and more than likely will stick around for 5-6 years.

  20. doctorrustbelt says: May 5, 2014 9:19 AM

    I wonder what unemployed NFL pariah richie incognito thinks about this report.

  21. notthetroll says: May 5, 2014 9:27 AM

    Lots of good players were undrafted(or drafted after rd. 7, there used to be lots more rounds) and its an inexact science. IF he goes low or not at all and the media says nothing, fine. IF he goes low or not at all and there’s even one opinion piece about discrimination, it’ll be just another effort to erode America from the inside like the last 5 1/2 years have been. The liberal stance–He’s gay so he should be drafted higher than someone else with little talent, or you’re a racist… er.. bigot, so we should nationalize the NFL.

  22. jamaltimore says: May 5, 2014 9:29 AM

    San Fran is best place for him.

  23. pftfan says: May 5, 2014 9:31 AM

    He’ll get taken by a team with a bunch of non-tradeable compensatory picks in either the 6th or 7th rounds. My guess is either the Ravens, Jets or Steelers.

    Those scouts who said they wouldn’t sign him, let alone draft him were in the minority of that sample group and their willful ignorance should not be the issue here.

    What matters is that some team will draft him and he will get to prove whether his SEC Defensive Player of the Year passes muster in the NFL.

  24. cvdt57 says: May 5, 2014 9:33 AM

    He’ll get drafted. Not because he’s gay, because he’s good enough to warrant it. He’s probably more attractive to teams running a 3-4 because he’s a little small for a pro 4-3 lineman which explains why some scouts don’t want him. But the lineman strength and linebacker size that makes him hard to place on defense makes him perfect for special teams. Which is exactly what teams want out of late round rookies. And if he gets cut, no one will notice. No one noticed when Jason Collins spent a season as a free agent after coming out. It’s in Sam’s best interest to either succeed or fail quietly because if he gets cut and makes a huge stink he will have made it that much harder for the next openly gay player to make it in the league. He needs to prove that being gay is NO distraction for anyone. And it would help him if the media would get on board with that.

  25. raidordie says: May 5, 2014 9:49 AM

    Anyone miss the days of dont ask dont tell. If that were around he’d easily be 3rd round

  26. whiteknightblackheart says: May 5, 2014 9:52 AM

    Guy gets around the corner pretty damn good, and I think Rex could make a hell of a situational pass rusher out of him. Hope the Jets take him with one of their late-round conditionals.

  27. edavidberg says: May 5, 2014 9:56 AM

    There isn’t much left in the six or seventh. Somebody will take a flyer on him since he was such a great college player.

  28. walkinginthewasteland says: May 5, 2014 10:00 AM

    OK, so let me get this straight. The SEC DPotY is essentially a no-one, known for his sexual orientation, not his play on the field. He is a day-3 pick, and mostly seen as a special teams player.

    The MAC DPotY is a beast with a motor that wont quit and will likely go in the top 5.

  29. jamesmfitzpatrick says: May 5, 2014 10:00 AM

    I see his story as an important one, even bigger than the game, etc, but don’t put down the years of work that other hopeful draftees put in during their lives by saying that “eventually, the only remaining question regarding the process will be when does Michael Sam get picked?”

  30. theytukrjobs says: May 5, 2014 10:01 AM

    Some teams may pass on him because he’s gay. Other teams will be inclined to pick him as a marketing opportunity to show how open minded they are.

    The guy will probably be a 7th rounder. He’s a good run stopper but doesn’t give much in the passing/blitzing way of things but someone will look at him as a special teams guy or a 1st/2nd down linebacker for depth.

  31. stonefish67 says: May 5, 2014 10:06 AM

    Give it a rest. Scouts and NFL teams look for heart, desire, etc.
    Who cares if this pervert gets picked.
    If he doesn’t, he’ll still get press.
    Big deal for a nothing event.

  32. ricardorobertasq says: May 5, 2014 10:10 AM

    I think, as ftball101 alluded to, that a team might be scared to have him on their roster and then have to cut him for athletic reasons. If he is just not good enough to make the team, yet gets cut, the whole world is gonna scream discrimination.

  33. manderson367 says: May 5, 2014 10:14 AM

    Seriously, if he hadn’t come out nobody would even be talking about him. Plus he’s a media headache waiting to happen. Why would any team want that mess? He’s a borderline talent. If he was a lock to make the 53 man roster, draft him. But he’s not, so I’d pass just to avoid the media circus.

  34. knows2much says: May 5, 2014 10:29 AM

    Before the genius started flexing in Chipadelphia (see DJax). the Eagles had a strong and successful history of salvaging discards and maintaining a positive locker room environment …

    Sam’s role and motor fills a need for them on the edge. Even though he won’t be a top selection — they will have to pick a DE-OLB early — Philadelphia will work for him …

    After the way they have handled Vick and Riley Cooper, I’m sure they see no risk in the baggage.

    Look for the Eagles to let him compete …

    Not an Eagles Fan …

  35. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: May 5, 2014 10:49 AM

    Been saying this all along: Sam’s gender preference truthfully shouldn’t be a factor, but Sam is not NFL-caliber in terms of talent alone. It will really surprise me if this guy lights it up on Sundays — I just don’t see it.

  36. weepingjebus says: May 5, 2014 11:00 AM

    I was at Giants stadium recently and they are in dire need of a good interior decorator.

  37. guitarfreak21 says: May 5, 2014 11:02 AM

    For the sake of all involved, people should just forget he exists until he actually plays a down. If he reaches the spotlight again as a player, then he can do his thing, but as of now, he’s a nobody rookie that needs to prove he’s worth a roster spot… same as everyone else.

  38. joetoronto says: May 5, 2014 11:40 AM

    The left wing media killed his chances, making such a big deal of him being gay.

    He carries way too much baggage for an average linebacker and isn’t worth drafting.

  39. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: May 5, 2014 12:36 PM

    To the guy hyping the SEC DPOY, it may help to know that Jarvis and Mo’ Claiborne have struggled so far. Really struggled.

  40. channelguy says: May 5, 2014 12:42 PM

    Every year there are several guys like Sam, who were dominant players in college, but whose core skills don’t translate well to the next level. QBs who don’t have the arm, like Kellen Moore, who was a megastar in college, but who is a 3rd QB with the Lions. WRs who cant separate from NFL DBs. Defensive players who are a little too small, or too slow for the league. Sportswriters typically love these guys, and applaud the teams who draft them. Sometimes they do play at a high level, but usually they don’t and they tend not to last long because coaches want the guys with pure skills who might become stars.

    The guy who listed the SEC defensive players of the year, left off a couple busts — Rolando McClain and Glenn Dorsey. But they aren’t really comparable to Sam because they were taken near the top of the first. The best comparison in terms of perceived talent level is 2003 SEC player of the year Chad Lavalais from LSU who was taken in the fifth by Atlanta and who lasted two years with them, and then fell out of the league. That’s probably Sam’s fate.

  41. baltimoresnativeson says: May 5, 2014 12:45 PM

    I still don’t understand why he felt the need to make a public announcement.

    If it’s not supposed to be a big deal he sure did act like it was one.

  42. charmcitychampions says: May 5, 2014 12:54 PM

    Gay/Straight….Black/White….Nice-guy/Manziel-Level-Douche…. none of it matters.

    People are missing the OBVIOUS problems here for him AS A FOOTBALL PLAYER ONLY.

    In a base 4-3 he is seriously undersized. But the 4-3 fits his skillset best. He is a quick twitch pass rusher, with below-average NFL speed, but very good burst off the line. So he can get to the QB, but likely won’t be a dominant edge rusher. But the biggest problem there is his size is way under what a 4-3 prototypical end is supposed to be, so his power off the line is in question and his benchpress reps were weak. So scouts for 4-3 are likely not very interested.

    In a traditional 3-4 his size is less of an issue obviously, but his lack of speed and change of direction/agility become a major deterrant to teams looking to run that scheme. He is just not a linebacker and does not possess the fluidity and agility to play as one in space. Scouts for a 3-4 won’t view him as a linebacker.

    He is stuck between 2 positions. And he’s not the first of last guy in that position. Most undersized tweeners can not adjust to the 3-4 in the NFL unless they have exceptional athleticism, change of directions skills, speed to play in space.

    His BEST scenario would be to go to a team that runs a hybrid system like Rex Ryan or Ray Horton runs and has room for a guy with his talents in sub-packages. Titans, Seahawks, Browns, Jets, Patriots, Falcons, Cardinals make the most sense imo for using him as a situational designated pass rusher. But as a 3 down player….I don’t see it at all.

    And with the way the game is played now (situationaly – primarily based on matchups), if I am the OC of another team I go no huddle any time he is on the field and look to exploit his shortcomings by forcing him try to cover my TE or RB if he’s playing OLB or run right at him if he’s trying to play DE.

  43. fmc651 says: May 5, 2014 1:12 PM

    As soon as he posted the 4.9 that was the case.

  44. vikesr4reel says: May 5, 2014 1:41 PM

    If he is good he will get drafted..
    Period.
    Everyone wants to improve their team at any cost or publicity stunt.
    Niners are keeping Aldon smith and he should be out of the league for being stupid.

  45. candrwells says: May 5, 2014 3:30 PM

    From what I’ve read, not related to his sexual orientation, it sounds like he’d be a very late rounder if drafted at all.

    In this instance, I’d say coming out might be a boost to his draft status. Which is a shame. He may be drafted, but many will wonder if it is only because he disclosed that he is gay.

    IMO, be gay or don’t. If you’re gay, fine, if you’re not, fine.. it doesn’t really matter to me, but announcing it probably won’t do him any good beyond getting drafted. At some point he’s going to have to earn that roster spot.

    It may help people who are struggling with coming out about being gay. In that sense, it’s probably the most impact that this whole thing will have.

  46. wjarvis says: May 5, 2014 4:15 PM

    Winning awards in college does not mean that your game will translate to the NFL. Anyone remember Jason White, won a Heisman and was a finalist the next year, only to go undrafted. Supposedly he was one of the best players in the NCAA, but at the same time not one of the best ~250 players.

    If a team thinks he’ll help them win, he’ll be drafted, it’s as simple as that. I don’t think his sexual orientation will impact where is drafted at all. Teams that want the positive coverage of drafting him, would also have to weigh that against the potential negative coverage of cutting the first openly gay football player.

  47. zn0rseman says: May 6, 2014 11:31 AM

    His skills in college do not translate to the NFL… at… all.

    He would be undrafted had he not announced in a press conference something that should remain private.

    That said, now that he is a media darling, some team will draft him WAY above where he should go as a PR stunt. Then he’ll have a short career where, like Ray Lewis at the end of his career, meaning TV announcers will give him credit for tackles where he was the third guy to jump on the pile. Then he’ll quietly disappear from the league after serving for a couple of years as a liability on defense and special teams.

    His legacy will be that other players on the fringe of the draft will have learned that such an announcement will give them a shot, and put them ahead of more deserving players

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